DON’T Insert Tab A Into Slot B: Love Scenes that Kill Romance Novels

Let’s skip the dinner and go straight to the bedroom…these are my top 5 annoying love scenes from books that I won’t identify because one day I hope to be a published author and I know my storylines will be examined and I can only pray that they will return the favor by skewering me with anonymity.

#5 Don’t Mind the Stab Wound…or the Dead Guy Over There: How do you balance the wounded soldier fantasy with the need to seek actual medical attention? That is the fine line when the hero rescues the heroine from the villain but gets injured in the struggle. In most cases, the hero either shakes it off or throws some duct tape on it and he’s ready to carry the heroine off into the bedroom. Then there are times when the fine line is crossed. In one case, the heroine is attacked by the villain in her bedroom. The hero saves her and kills the villain but not without getting stabbed in the process. However, a little gushing blood from a gaping wound and the smell and sight of a dead body wouldn’t deter this couple from consummating their love, more than once, on a blood soaked mattress. (Insert your own visceral response)

#4 Run for your Life! Wait! Let’s make out behind that tree: There is an entire romance genre dedicated to Suspense and Thriller Romances. People want to read about action and adventure, plus they want their characters to fall in love. Timing is Key. For example, our couple is being chased by the bad guys on Jeeps so they run into a dark forest. They find a cave, a shelter from the machine gun fire sprayed all around them. For a brief moment, they are safe. Their hearts are racing and they realize they need each other for survival because they are moments from death. At this point a lot of stories toss away self-preservation for a moment of grass stains on blue jeans (Insert bow chicka wow wow).

#3 That’s not how your brother does it? Sometimes it feels like I’m reading an episode of Jerry Springer. Don’t let a couple become one of Jerry’s Final Thoughts.

#2: Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby (Courtesy of Salt-n-Pepa) How does the author balance having their couple being sexually responsible versus killing the romantic moment? Since I read mostly paranormal romances, my couples conveniently find themselves of different species and incapable of breeding or a witch works her magic. So when I read a contemporary romance, I make no judgment about when the author decides for the couple to enter the bedroom but I can’t find myself rooting for them if they can’t find a way to address precautions.

#1 The Power of “S”: With the current self-publishing frenzy, readers are going to experience a lot of books that are in need an editor. A book that is infamous with my book club came with a visual aid because a book club member got on the floor to prove that the action sequence wasn’t physical possible. Here is how an “s” can ruin the romance. In bed, some characters will prop themselves up on an elbow and stroke the back of their sleeping lover. However, a character can’t prop themselves up on their elbows and stroke the back of someone sleeping next to them. If you don’t believe me, try it. Once propped up on your elbows, your wrists can’t reach anyone and you look weird. Then you share what you have learned with your book club, who will reference this book for many years as the elbow book, disregarding 79,999 words of hard work in favor of one word with an extra letter.

There you have my top 5 scenes to keep in mind the next time you are reading a romance novel. There are some legend… (wait… for… it..) ary bad love scenes out there but here is the funny thing. I read 100 books a year and I can’t remember half of them but I will never forgot the above 5 books. Is that a good or bad thing? Do you want your book to be memorable? Even if it’s not in the way you intended it to be memorable?


About Jessie Smith

Health Care Worker by Day, Aspiring Author by Night and 24/7 Staff for Riley (Corgie/Tibetan Spaniel Mix)

Posted on February 13, 2014, in Auth: Jessie Smith and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. Wish I could remember where I saw this post about the “most unfortunate typo ever” — the hero was supposed to “shift” under the heroine, but a letter was tragically left out…


  2. Fun post Jessie. I’ve read scenes like the one you describe in five. Dead body nearby, hero gushing blood, couple frantic to get it on here and now. These scenes push the boundaries of believability a little too far. Blood is not generally a turn on, not unless there are vampires involved. Good lesson here on positions too. I’ve read a few that had me wondering where the hero got his third arm. A third leg I understand, but three arms?


  3. LOL! Awesome post, Jessie!

    Thanks to spell check and auto complete, I once had a hero “crack” a heroine’s hip rather than “caress” it. My critique group pointed out that this might happen if I wrote for an older audience, but would take quite some force for my twenty-something woman.


  4. If they couldn’t have sex after duct tape, they just needed more duct tape 🙂 Thanks for the visuals and the laugh!


  5. Very funny! And so true. Fun post!


  6. Laughed through much of this and I’ve seen it all. My favorite though is your number one: “A book that is infamous with my book club came with a visual aid because a book club member got on the floor to prove that the action sequence wasn’t physical possible.”

    I wrote a scene once, even worse than the elbow one you mention, and fortunately I had a group of romance writers reading for me at a workshop. Needless to say, the gymnastics involved were miraculous and one particularly knowledgeable woman made me lie on my back (as the male) and she demonstrated exactly why it wouldn’t work.

    That will teach me never to write a position I haven’t tried myself, or at least physically acted out the choreography to make sure it’s possible. 🙂


  7. Greetings Jamie – I’m glad you got a chuckle 🙂
    Nope, your work is not reference in this post.


  8. Still laughing. Good post. Also laughing nervously — hoping I didn’t write any of the above examples.


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